When it comes to viruses — and antivirus programs — the average computer user can’t really do much to defend against these threats. Antiviruses bundled with their computer usually don’t do much in terms of defense and act more intrusive than actual viruses would, with constant warnings and cues for the user to pay for an update.
It’s understandable, then, that users wishing to browse and download with no worries are seeking better options for their protection. However, a good amount of these better options are actually free — ready to see them?
AVG, or Anti-Virus Guard, is a free antivirus program developed by AVG Technologies, a company with a fairly fitting name considering their product line.
AVG offers the standard set of antivirus features, but if you’re only using the free version of their program, you’ll be hit near constantly with popup ads advising you to upgrade. In addition, the free version gets vital virus definition updates later than the premium — so an unlucky person could get hit with a virus that AVG protects against that AVG Free has yet to.
avast! Free Antivirus is a free antivirus program developed by AVAST Software a. s., which, like the other companies on the list, has a name based on their premier product.
Avast, like AVG, features background scanning, automatic updates for virus definitions and such. Like AVG, Avast also has pop-ups, but these are only given whenever it updates or it blocks a virus that could’ve compromised your system. The settings for these notifications can be notified, and once you download the program, it’s free to use for a month. At the end of that month, you can make a free account with Avast and you’ll still be able to use it for another year — at the end of that year, however, you’ll have to make a new account to return to using Avast for free.
Avast for free obviously has its downside in comparison to its higher-tiered, paid-for brethren, but unlike AVG, it demonstrates more direct control for a free program and doesn’t withhold updates from you if you don’t want to give Avast money. The choice there is yours to make.
Avira is developed by, well, Avira. Avira has the strongest foothold in the free antivirus market and offers all the same features as its free competitors — with no threats of subscriptions and begging for updates to paid versions.
Lined in a row, the antivirus programs aren’t too different when it comes to their main function of detecting viruses. However, the big differences become apparent with how the programs intrude on the user experience and treat their users — with this all in mind, Avira becomes the clear winner.
Anti-malware covers more than just viruses. Adware, spyware, rootkits and other malicious software can be on your PC without your knowledge. Here’s an article on the best free anti-malware solutions. Install one of these alongside your free antivirus application.
Steve Horton has been working with computers for over 20 years. He's dedicated to helping people get the most out of their PCs, and likes playing cards and writing comics.
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